Sunday, May 8, 2016

Digging Up The Dirt With KillDozer and Blood Sacrifice Creator James Dufresne

You guys may remember a couple of weeks back, the Creature of the ComiCombs reviewed Blood Sacrifice as part of Treasures Form the ComiCombs and he was impressed with very aspect of it. And during our recent trip to Monsterpalooza, we ran into the multi talented creator of the comic, who also has a bit of a history with our own KillDozer. He agreed to answer some questions about his work (past and upcoming) and give us some backstory on whatever KillDozer wanted to know.

Now, let's keep the comic book theme going throughout this whole weekend, and read on to learn about the man behind the ink, James Henry Dufresne!

KillDozer: Let's start off with a little introduction. Who are you, where are you from and when did you first become interested in art?

James: My name is James Henry Dufresne and I was originally born in Lowell, Massachusetts but essentially grew up in Southern California. I've been interested in the arts pretty much my whole life. I was drawing from pretty much as early as I can remember. I won my first national art contest which was a Christmas stamp contest put on by the United States Postal Service when I was only seven. Drawing was always my first love and helped define who I was to those around me.

KillDozer: Your style of drawing stands out amongst all the other artists whose work involves the same subject matter (cult film icons, genre creatures/monsters etc.). What are your influences?

James: My main influences are old Marvel comics from the 70's, VHS artwork, and classic heavy metal album covers from the 80's, as well as things like mad balls and garbage pail kids, and more importantly the more subversive end of comics like Robert Crumb, Daniel Clowes and Gary Panter.

KillDozer: When choosing your subject, is it more important to draw something you love and something you believe others would like to see?

James: For the longest time I tried to make comics and art that I thought people would want to read, and it never worked out for me. The work always felt forced or half-assed. It wasn't until I decide to just do the kind of comics that I wanted to read, and that were first and foremost FUN, that I feel like I started to really make work that I was proud of.

KillDozer: I have seen incredible portraits you've done of famous wrestlers past and present . Tell us about your love of wrestling; where does it come from and how has it influenced you? 

James: My love of pro wrestling started the day I turned on the TV and saw The Road Warriors for the first time. I heard the opening chords to Sabbath's "Iron Man" being played, and watched as these two behemoth dudes in face paint and spiked leather ran to the ring and just brutalized their opponents. It was literally almost traumatizing, but in the best way possible. I lived through the first wrestling boom of the 80's with Hulkamania and the WWF, which was formative, and then through the even bigger boom of "The Attitude Era" of the 90's. I even dreamed of being a pro wrestler, but decided to focus on art and comics, but I still think what if...

KillDover: Your zine Dream Evil is beautiful and I'm a proud owner of one of the first copies with a personalized drawing (no big deal). How long did it take you to do all the personal drawings? Did you regret making that offer to the pre-ordering customers? What was your favorite personal drawing? What was your favorite piece in the zine and why?

James: The sketches did become kinda problematic, just in the sense that people had to wait longer to get their books than I would have liked, but they were fun. By the 200th sketch though, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little regretful.

My favorite piece in the book...that's hard. There were a few I was really happy with, like Randal "Tex" Cobb's nameless bounty hunter from Raising Arizona, and Big Ben from House.

I had a lot of fun sketches I got to do (including yours, Billy Eye Harper from one of my all time faves Rocktober Blood) but I was particularly proud of one I did of Lon Chaney from London After Midnight.

KillDizer: You have some album artwork under your belt as well as a best selling shirt for the hardcore band Alcatraz that sold out quick in Japan. Do you hope to do more work for bands? Does music influence your work?

James: I would love to do more album artwork, and am actually in talks to maybe doing some more. I love music, it's always been a huge inspiration, so I'm always excited to work with bands I dig. It's not the easiest gig, because there's no much that goes into it, and so many opinions involved, that it ends up occupying more time than I'd like, especially with having a full time job.

KillDozer: Can you let us in on any new projects you are working on? Why don't you do conventions and sell prints like other artists?

James: I'm actually gonna be doing some conventions coming up, end of this year and next. The problem is the cons aren't cheap to do, and again, with a full time job, a wife and child, free time isn't something I have a whole lot of. But I'm working on a super amazing comic project right now, called Brainbuster 2019, with my buddy J.B. Roe, so I'm looking to get out there and start doing my part to help promote it. I'm also working on the 2nd issue of Blood Sacrifice, the 3rd volume of Dream Evil, and an art zine dedicated to the classic AWA wrestlers of the 70's and 80's, as well as a pretty fun comic I can't talk about yet. So I'll actually have some stuff to sell and promote, which helps when you're trying to make money off your art. 

KillDozer: Who are artists that inspire you? new or old.

James: My biggest artistic inspirations are probably both Dan Clowes, and Charles Burns. These are two master cartoonists who do completely original and inspired stuff. Obviously, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing without old EC Horror comics, but I also love old Marvel guys like John Romita and Herb Trimpe. I'm also a huge admirer of Ed Repka, and Pushead, and what "Monster Kid" doesn't love Basil Gogos? Currently, I think Ben Marra is killing it with every comic he does, as well as Zé Burnay, who's a Portuguese artist who I'm proud to say did a pin up for Blood Sacrifice #1.

KillDozer: Blood Sacrifice is amazing and has been making everyone that reads it beg for more. Please tell us a little about how this comic came to be. What was publishing it like? How was it working with printers? Did you distro it yourself?

James: Blood Sacrifice was an idea I had had for 10 years. It was was essentially a love letter to my favorite 70's and 80's horror films, specifically The Gate, Phantasm, and Trick or Treat.

My goal was to combine mindless killers, satanic cults, and classic Heavy Metal into the kind of comic I would have killed for as a kid. I had the idea, once I'd started to develop it, that I'd have to go the Crowd Funding route to get it printed and out there. While thinking of cool things I could do as reward incentives, I had thought how cool it would be to have an actual soundtrack to the comic. Originally, in the story, the two kid protagonists were obsessed with this band "Beast", an over the top King Diamond style metal band, inspired obviously by movies like Trick or Treat and Black Roses...and I thought "Man, I'd love to be able to actually have a band record songs AS Beast, as I had written the lyrics to 3 fake songs as they were going to serve as plot points. Envisioning it as just a 4 song tape or vinyl that would only ever be available for donators to the Kickstarter, I set off trying to find someone to actually make the music!

Most of my musician friends were either too busy, or didn't think they could pull the exact sound I had in my head, I had almost given up on the idea when someone put me in contact with this band that was playing the LA metal scene called Night Demon. They had that NWOBHM sound I was looking for and apparently wanted to do something comic related so it looked to be a match made in Heavy Metal Heaven.
Unfortunately I had to make a lot compromises once the project got started, specifically if the band was to be involved they didn't want to be a "Fake" band. So I essentially had to rework the entire concept, which was disappointing because it meant I had to scrap the "Beast" concept, which was one of the things that inspired me to do it in the first place. 

As we were working together and developing exactly what it was that we were doing, the project basically became a collaborative effort. They had gotten signed to Century Media, and their debut album basically served as like a companion piece to the comic and vice versa. A lot of things happened along the way, and it took me much longer to finish the first issue than I had planned, and it meant that I had to pay for the printing out of pocket, which I couldn't really afford to do AND do the convention circuit to promote it, but it had been long enough and I just wanted to get it out into the world.

The preorder on the book did better than I expected, which once again I had promised a sketch for all pre-orders, and that REALLY bit me in the ass. Ultimately, I'm proud of the first issue, even if it wasn't the book I had originally planned. I've heard a lot of really nice things about it, and the second issue is under way, but right now my focus is on other projects that I'm obligated to. We'll have to see what the future has in store for Blood Sacrifice

KillDozer: You have a twin brother who is a well respected horror host named Uncle Eerie who hosted Uncle Eerie's Shiver Show. Is your whole family into the genre? What was it like working with your brother on projects?

James: Joe and I are essentially the same person, and we love all the same stuff. I think we were influenced a lot by our mom, who loves Halloween and has the craziest taste in movies for a mom. Her favorite movie is Tremors!

I got to do an episode of Uncle Eerie's Shiver Show (where I played Hook Hand Hank, his lumbering psychotic neighbor) and it was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. Their set was so incredible, so detailed, and it was built in their car park at their apartment complex! Joe and I worked so well together that it was super easy to put that episode together. Joe's a very charismatic and natural performer where I have a lot more insecurities, but I would have loved to do more. Unfortunately he's had to put a hold on doing Eerie, but there might be some cool things happening this upcoming Autumn.

KillDozer: Where can people find your work? Do you have a web site or Etsy shop? Can people get quotes on custom art?

James: I do have an Etsy, which is where I do all of my e-business, and my Instagram (jameshdufresne_art) where I promote it all. And I love to do commissions so I'm always open to that. People can contact me at

KillDozer: OK time for some fun questions - Is D&D a way of life? What is your character's name? 

James: I haven't played D&D in years, sadly, and when I did play I was usually the DM, but my longest running player character was a dwarf fighter named Tör Irongut.

KillDozer: What is your favorite action figure?

James: Original TMNT Mutagen Man is definitely one of them. God, what a great figure!

KillDozer: What new metal band has blown your mind? What old metal bands always blow your mind?

James: I'm listening to a lot of doom/stoner stuff right now (it's more conducive to drawing) and so I really like Hooded Menace, and this band Bell Witch. I'm also obsessed with this old NWOBHM band called Damascus that only ever recorded one demo and one EP... I bought a Japanese compilation album called Cold Horizon after finding their songs on YouTube and I've been obsessed with it since.

KillDozer: Favorite soundtrack and why?

James: Easy. Demons. It's perfect.

KillDozer: If you could work with any artist dead or alive who would it be and why?

James: Oh man, so many...weirdly, not another illustrator or cartoonist, but I'd love to do an original concept comic with Tom Holland and than have him direct the adaptation. I'd love to see him do another kick ass horror film!

KillDozer: What is the last film (genre or otherwise) that you were really impressed with? 

James: Probably The Invitation. It focused on real tension and was very grounded, some really solid performances. And the ending really delivers.

KillDozer: Who is on your "I must meet them one day" bucket list?

James: Well, I met Tom Atkins and Brian Thompson, and Frank Frazetta is dead, so I think I'm okay.

You can get a copy of Blood Sacrifice #1 at Jame's Etsy, and be sure to follow him on Instagram!


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